The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Today I’ve been invited to play out at Overtheeffingrainbow by the lovely Lisa.  My review is for The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon which I really enjoyed.  Go check it out here

I’ve updated this to include the original text as follows:

Bone Season by Samantha Shannon seems to be one of those books that is receiving plenty of hype at the moment which to be honest usually makes me go into the read feeling a little bit apprehensive.  However, I think on this occasion all the buzz surrounding this story is justified.  I really enjoyed this, it was a compelling read and I will definitely pick up the next book – the worst thing now is the impossibly long wait!

Straight to the plot.  Bone Season is based in the future, the year 2059.  The setting is London.  But, this isn’t the London we know.  This is an alternative version.  Two hundred years ago events took place that changed the nature of the world in which we live.  I won’t give any more away about those events as the story needs to unfold in it’s own way.  What I can say is that people are divided into two types.  The majority of people are regular every day people going about their lives in much the same way as you and I.  Hidden among them are people with special talents, all sorts of different levels of clairvoyance ranging from being somebody who can see ghosts to someone who can manipulate another person’s memories through dreams.  This is a world with two types of people: voyants, those with the ability to use their hidden powers; and the rest of the population who are known as amaurotics.  Voyants are forbidden – it’s treason to simply live and breathe and certain death to be discovered and this has driven people with these abilities into a secret life.  A criminal underworld thrives in the heart of London where seven different syndicates are run by mime lords – each in competition with each other for the strongest clairvoyants.  Clairvoyancy may mean certain death in one respect but in another it means big business.  At the start of the story we’re introduced to Paige – she belongs to a syndicate and is quite a prized asset. Paige is a dreamwalker which gives her the ability to project her spirit out of her body and into the body of others.  Returning home to spend time with her father, (who is completely unsuspecting of Paige’s hidden talents) she is chased and kills two people who are attempting to arrest her.  From there begins a race for freedom, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away here by saying that Paige fails to make it.  When she next wakes everything she thinks she knows is going to be turned on it’s head in a very dramatic fashion.

Paige is now in captivity and her captors are nothing like she expected nor is the world she now inhabits the version that most people are familiar with.  The world she now lives in is harsh and cruel and humans are second class citizens.  Slaves, entertainers, and even nourishment.  Yet again Paige’s special ability is in demand, however, this time, far from being cosseted she could find herself six feet under if her ‘dreamwalker’ abilities are discovered.

The characters.  They’re not all fleshed out perfectly but Paige is a good character to read.  You learn a lot about her through a series of flashbacks where she looks back at her earlier years.  She’s not a perfect character.  She can be a little bit annoying on occasion.  She’s not always right.  She has a blinkered and frankly naive vision of the lifestyle she lived.  Basically she’s flawed but I think that is what makes her likeable and easy to read and root for.  Able to look after herself and resourceful in the face of danger, but no ninja kick ass.  On top of this she is loyal to her friends and willing to help others when needed.  I liked Paige.  The other main characters are her captors – the Rephaim who are cold and merciless.  They are intriguing to read about and I still don’t really know what the truth is behind their whole world and history.  There’s still a lot more to learn about the Rephaim at this stage so I won’t go into them two much other than to say they are led by a ruthless and ambitious leader but amongst them there are certain rebels who dislike the treatment dished out to the humans.  On top of these characters Paige is surrounded by supplementary characters such as her gang members, her father and her fellow prisoners.  They’re all decent additions but Paige is, without doubt, the centre of the story.

The setting.  Easy to imagine.  Apart from the obvious ‘alternative’ feel the settings are similar to those we live in now.  People go out to work, they live as we do.  Ride the tube, make friendships.  There are no major significant changes other than the addition of people with special abilities – and of course the Rephaim and their secret world.  I really liked the history used in the story to support events particularly the Victorian aspects.

Now, along with the hype there has been a lot of comparisons being bandied about such as JK Rowliing, the Hunger Games and even Twilight.  I think the only comparison I can see to JKR is that there will be seven books in the series,  in terms of The Hunger Games – probably the fact that both are set in dystopian worlds and I guess that Paige is maybe being set up to become a hero of sorts. Twilight?  Other than a similarity in age of the two lead females – not really.  I just wanted to clear that up.  I’m not necessarily saying this book is reinventing the wheel, it probably has lots of similarities to other novels but nothing more than a fleeting glimpse of familiarity.  I think it will definitely have a cross over appeal with YA and an older audience which I think is a definite plus.

I think what I particularly enjoyed about Bone Season is the way it kept me thinking.  There are plenty of different themes threaded through the story and whilst I think others may take something different away from this I found it thought provoking.  The differences between freedom and captivity and within that – how free Paige actually was before she even became captive.  I also thought there was plenty of pace to the book.  It wasn’t all about plot but the story is told in such a way to keep your attention and I like the author’s style.  I never had any moments where I wasn’t eager to continue reading.  And, on top of all this I’m captivated as to what will happen next.

I enjoyed this very much.  I won’t say it’s particularly dark and gritty.  It’s got a definite crossover feel with YA – but I don’t think this detracts at all from the story and I simply have got to know what happens next!

3 Responses to “The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon”

  1. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The Mime Order continues the story of Paige Mahoney picking up immediately where the Bone Season left off with Paige and others making a daring escape from Sheol I – a brutal prison camp where those people known as voyants are taken and treated as slaves.  (Bone Season review here). […]

  2. ‘The truth is, you’re the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, I’m trying real hard’ |

    […] The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – in which Paige Mahoney is captured and taken to Sheol I penal colony, Oxford, where she and other captives become slaves.  There are two elements of independence to these stories – there’s the breaking out of the penal colony which is run by a ruthless race of people, and there’s also breaking out from the rule of Scion, a ruling force which keeps the masses in strict control. […]

  3. “My only love sprung from my only hate.” … |

    […] The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – a strange world full of clairvoyants.  Paige is kidnapped and taken to ‘Oxford’ where she will become a slave to a warden, one of the Rephaim.  Mm, guess what happens next.  Well, obviously they develop feelings for each other.  Yep, didn’t see that coming!  Again though, the romance isn’t the central theme of the book and in fact book 2 actually sees the two spending very little page time together.  Of course, for the treachery and betraying their own kind both of them could be put to death. […]

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